News

Actions

Update: Police searching for ‘person of interest’ in Hannah Graham disappearance

Default-Image_1280x720.png
Posted at 8:56 AM, Sep 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-18 23:16:33-04

Update: Police are now searching for a “person of interest” in connection with the disappearance of UVa. student Hannah Elizabeth Graham, according to WTVR.

Police said they want to question a man spotted talking to the 18-year-old student on the Downtown Mall around 1:15 a.m. on Sept. 13 — the night she vanished.

Police described the man as a black male in his late 20s to early 30s, about 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing between 250-285 pounds. The man was wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt and was described as having a closely shaved head as well as a goatee and a slight “beer belly.”

If you have information that could help police, call 434-295-3851.

Now officials are asking for volunteers to help with a mass search on early Saturday, Sept. 20th. All volunteer searchers are subject to a background check and can register here no later than 5 p.m. on Friday. 

You must be at least 18, no weapons are allowed, bring a copy of the registration form and driver license, wear proper clothing and shoes, bring water to stay hydrated, indicate on the form if you have previous military experience and or search and rescue experience, and you also must be physically in shape for walking and searching for up to four hours.  

Charlottesville, Va. – A man seen in a new surveillance video walking behind missing UVa. student Hannah Graham has talked to police.

The new video was taken at 1:06 a.m.  from Sal’s Pizza, located at 221 E. Main St. It shows a white male walking into the cameras view, he looks over his shoulder, then steps into a doorway and Graham walks past him, police said.

After she passes, the man starts walking behind her. The second video picks up at 1:08 a.m., from a camera at Tuel’s Jewelers located at 319 E. Main St. The video shows Graham walking with the same white male some distance behind her, Pleasants said.

Police: Missing UVa. student Hannah Graham seen running past gas station, entering Downtown Mall

Capt. Gary said the man in the video came to the police station, and said he had also left his story on the tip line, according to WTVR.

He told police that he was walking with her to make sure she was okay, because she seemed physically distressed and he “wanted to make sure she got safely wherever she was going.”

The man told police that he saw a black man approach Hannah, and that man put his arm around her. The unidentified man told police she didn’t react, and seemed to know him. Once those two started speaking, he said it appeared the black male was “was either known to Ms. Graham or was trying to help her.”

So he went on his way, he told police. He said the two were standing there talking when he left.

The updated timeline of the last hours anyone heard from Graham looks like this:

  • 11: 50 p.m. Friday — Graham last seen by friends at Camden Plaza Apartments, in the 200 block of 14th Street NW.
  • 12:45 a.m. Saturday — Graham seen on surveillance video outside of McGrady’s Pub on Grady Street.
  • 12:55 a.m. Saturday — Graham seen on Shell station surveillance video on Preston Ave.
  • 1 a.m. Saturday — Witness reports seeing Graham on Downtown Mall
  • 1:06 a.m. Saturday — Video captures Graham in front of Sal’s, continuing to walk east along the mall.
  • 1:08 a.m. Saturday — Graham seen in front of Tuel Jewelers.
  • 1:20 a.m. Saturday — Graham sends a text to friends saying she was lost in the area around 14th and Wertland Streets.

Police have been searching for the 18-year-old sophomore since Sunday.

Her parents say they’re worried something happened to her after she left a gathering with friends Friday night in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Hannah is beyond precious to us,” John and Susan Graham said in a statement released by police Wednesday. “We are truly devastated by her disappearance. It’s totally out of character for us not to have heard from her, and we fear foul play.”

The teen’s mysterious disappearance comes nearly five years after the unsolved killing of another student in the area, sparking fears from some that there could be a connection.


missing1

Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, went missing after attending a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in October 2009. Her remains were found on a farm months later. Police have yet to track down her killer, and her family has long said they suspected there could be other victims.

Morgan Harrington suspect reportedly sighted near Washington and Lee University

Could there be a link to the Harrington case?

“Certainly the question has arisen. It’s certainly a legitimate question,” Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo told reporters Wednesday.

“If there comes a time where we believe there is a substantive link to those two investigations, we’ll share that with you,” he said.

So far, the police chief said, investigators haven’t found anything to tie the two cases. And they haven’t found any sign of foul play, despite the concerns the teen’s parents have expressed.

“As a parent, I’d be very concerned, but we don’t have any substantive evidence to confirm that,” he said. “But you know, they’re speaking from their heart.”

Surveillance videos offer clues

Police describe Graham, a sophomore, as a straight-A student, an accomplished athlete and a good friend.

She’s about 5-foot-11 with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles, the university said in a release asking for tips about the teen’s disappearance.

She left a dinner with a group of friends around 11 p.m. Friday. Around 1:20 a.m. Saturday, she sent a text to friends saying she was lost, CNN affiliate WTVR reported.

Police believe she may have been under the influence of alcohol, Longo said, and may have been vulnerable or unable to defend herself.

Investigators have tracked down several surveillance videos that show her that night outside a pub, near a gas station and in a downtown shopping mall, Longo said. But it’s not clear where she’s going or whether she’s in trouble.

One video shows her running along the road near a Shell station.

That initially concerned investigators, Longo told reporters.

But in later videos, he said “it does not appear at least at that point that she’s being pursued.”

Investigators are looking for more surveillance videos that they believe could show Graham in downtown Charlottesville, where a witness spotted her.

They’ve interviewed 50 people and received 100 tips in the case, police said.

And the search is far from over. As time passes, investigators say their search area grows. Search teams from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management are helping, CNN affiliate WVIR reported.

“This investigation has been aggressive and will continue to be aggressive,” Longo said.

CNN affiliate: Corridor has ‘infamous reputation’

Gil Harrington told CNN affiliate WTVR that it’s too soon to draw a direct connection between her daughter’s death and Graham’s disappearance.

“Your mind goes there, but I think that’s premature in a way,” she told WTVR. “We have the possibility of having a good outcome with Hannah. We need to keep that in mind.”

Right now, Gil Harrington has a poster with pictures of the University of Virginia student on her fridge, beneath the word “MISSING.”

Through “Help Save the Next Girl,” an organization founded after her daughter’s disappearance and death, she’s pushing residents of Charlottesville to call in tips.

On Wednesday, the organization tweeted that the Harringtons had left a message in large letters taped on Charlottesville bridge spelled out their support of the search: “PLEASE FIND HANNAH.”

“Your mind just sickens,” Gil Harrington told CNN affiliate WVIR. “You think, how can it be, another girl taken.”

This isn’t the first time a woman has gone missing in the area. The disappearances of Harrington and Graham, along with several other past cases in the area known as the Route 29 corridor has given the area an “infamous reputation,” WTVR says.

“I don’t know. Either there is a commonality or a crime spree,” Harrington told WTVR. “We have long passed a critical mass that needs looking at. If you look at the map of missing and abducted along Route 29 — it’s not a normal pattern.”

CNN contributed to this report